An orgy of bad feeling and self-pity erupted from the Progressive London meeting yesterday as Ken had his say, but an unruffled Boris bestrode the furore like a Colossus. He has called for “a greater sense of euergetism” from the super-rich. Euergetism is a Greek word that means philanthropy.
Broadminded and inspirational as ever, Boris believes, according to an article in Total Politics, that the super-rich must pay for schools and hospitals, to prevent the gap between rich and poor becoming as large as it was in Victorian times. The Mayor said: “We’re entering a very weird political climate, and we have been for 18 months or two years. ‘We’re in danger of becoming really averse to wealth creation and hostile to wealth creators as a country, no matter whether they’re bankers or anybody else. I have to say that alarms me. ‘Of course I want to see bankers doing their bit. I want to see a much greater sense of euergetism. ‘It’s incredible that you’ve got the gap between rich and poor opening up now in a way we haven’t seen since the Victorian epoch. “But what we haven’t got that the Victorians did have is that sense of duty on the part of the real titanic figures who are making money. ‘In those times people really thought it was disgraceful not to endow schools and hospitals and libraries. ‘What’s really gone wrong is that in America it’s thought acceptable to give and be publicly identified as being generous and a big person on the stage of giving. ‘In Britain we don’t like that and we are nervous of it. People that have money are nervous of being seen to give in that way.” When asked to name his hero, Boris named Pericles and for his villain, he named Alcibiades. Boris laughed off his chances of becoming Prime Minister, but cited Cincinnatus, a Roman aristocrat who was called from his farm triumphantly to lead Rome. If he were ever summoned, said Boris, he would do his best. All Boris fans hope fervently that one day, that day will come. If Boris were to be summed up in the title of a film, it would be A Beautiful Mind.